The Not-Famous Portland Ice Cream Shop You Should Know About
Portland is an ice cream town. Salt & Straw, one of the most-obsessed-over ice cream purveyors in the country, began in Portland, where its shops still draw lines that snake around the block. (This summer, by the way, we're stockpiling Salt & Straw's fresh sheep's milk ice cream, which thankfully is orderable online.) But if you hate lines, and still want excellent ice cream, we're proposing you check out one of the less-trafficked, beloved-by-locals shop just a few blocks down from the SE Division outpost of Salt & Straw: Pinolo Gelato.
Since opening in 2015, the authentic Italian gelato shop has been a Southeast Portland mainstay, serving traditional handmade gelato that uncannily replicates the stuff you'll find in Italy, with smart local sourcing that showcases the best flavors in the area. Co-owner Sandro Paolini, of Pisa, was committed to creating the same gelato experience he had as a child in Tuscany, and he nails it, while still maintaining a vivid Portland identity; the dairy is local, the peaches in the peach sorbetto are local (Sauvie Island Farms), and the basil in the lemon basil flavor is local, if not pulled straight from his backyard. We could go on, but you probably get the idea.
While many of Pinolo's flavors rotate with the seasons, based on what's available from local producers—the melon-mint sorbetto is perhaps the most refreshing thing I put in my mouth this summer—there are perfectly executed Italian classics available all year, like pistacchio, stracciatella, and fior di latte. For Mother's Day, Paolini came up with a flavored called "Sbrisolona," inspired by one of his favorite cakes that his mom used to make, featuring almond, lemon zest, and orange blossom water with an almond shortbread crumble on top.
Paolini's partner and Pinolo co-owner, Ashe Lyon, is from a farm in Eastern Oregon, so their combined sensibility makes something pretty magical: ice cream that is profoundly Tuscan and Pacific Northwestern. The shop is a family-friendly haunt for locals and in-the-know tourists, lacking any of the chaos you'll find at some of Portland's more buzzy ice cream parlors.
Pinolo Gelato, 3707 SE Division St, Portland, OR. (503) 719-8686.